Homicides declined in Plymouth County last year compared to 2019, and the number of people who died by fatal overdose increased over the same period, according to data released Friday by district attorney Timothy J. Cruz’s office.
State Police detectives assigned to Cruz’s office investigated seven homicides, down from 10 in 2019. A police officer also shot and killed Bryan Cruz-Soto, 28, of Dorchester, the release said.
Gun violence increased last year in Brockton, one of the largest cities in the county. There were 31 individuals struck by gunfire in 2020, compared to 23 the prior year, the release stated.
Plymouth County had 165 deaths suspected to be caused by overdose last year, compared to 143 in 2019, the release said.
In the year ahead, Cruz plans to work continue working with a regional drug task force to help individuals struggling with addiction and their families.
Cruz said he also plans to focus on violent crime and its impact on the community. He cited the work of Safe Streets, an initiative to curb violence in Brockton, where his office is based.
“As district attorney, I see firsthand the impact of violence and homicide on the community, particularly on surviving family and friends,” Cruz said in the release. “The tentacles of trauma associated with gun violence and homicide run deep, and the ripple effect is wide. We strive every day to hold accountable those perpetrating violent crime but also use our resources to support the prevention and re-entry work of our Safe Streets coalition here in Brockton.”
The Plymouth County Drug Abuse Task Force was formed in 2015 with Cruz alongside Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald. It brings law enforcement, the medical community, educators, and substance abuse experts together to share information and track the current trends of the opiate epidemic. A component of the task force is the Plymouth County Outreach, a county-wide effort to reach overdose victims and their families and get them the support and services after an overdose incident.
Cruz added, “Another goal in 2021 is to expand our Handle with Care program so that all 27 communities here in Plymouth County have the tools and training to address trauma sensitivity and help children coping with Adverse Childhood Experiences, build resiliency and succeed.”
Christine Mui can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MuiChristine.